While the announcement today from Amazon is a step in the right direction for all of us, in the sense that cloud computing is really the future, Amazon has made the same mis-step that other companies have made in a competitive environment by limiting and making certain music and movie file incompatible in its Cloud Drive (CD). Specifically, files not supported include Digital Rights Managed (DRM) files, ordinary files of over 100MB in size, ringtones, podcasts, audio books, and other non-music audio files. Unsupported file formats are .wma, .m4p, .wav, .ac3, .ogg, .ape and .flac.
READ: Apple music files and files that you could store on Google Docs.
So, it reminds me of the movie studios film rights ‘war’ of the nineties, when HBO and Showtime out bid one another and each ‘exclusively’ bought film pay rights for certain studios. The losers were the consumers (of course not in the mind of the pay services or studios). The consumers were forced to buy TWO pay services in order to get most of Hollywood’s prime films. Disney, Paramount and Tri-Star went to Showtime, Paramount, Fox, and Universal, and Warner Bros. Flash forward to today, none of this matters anymore.
Now, even though Amazon’s announcement today (http://bit.ly/hdbkTL) is very progressive and good for consumers, it alienates iTunes users. Ypu can’t store any music you bought from iTunes on Amazon and even if you didn’t buy it at Amazon, you can’t use your media player (iPod, iPhone or any Apple product) to stream that music back. I really hope that Google’s upcoming music locker will not prevent me from streaming and storing files I’ve purchase from either Amazon or Apple. I don’t want to have divide up and be forced to remember which files I bought from who in order to stream and enjoy my music.
The reason? Many. But the trend seems to be a little like the advent of FM radio back when all there was to listen to was AM. The migration was almost immediate. And like FM radio, streaming is free to listen to for the most part.
“Nearly half of U.S. teens say they listen to music on social nets, which is an increase from 37 percent a year ago; among college-age web users, the percentage rose from 30 percent in ’07 to 41 percent last year.”
As Virgin Megastores get their “going out of business signs” pinned up, the loss of a major brick and mortar music retailer will certainly hasten the demise of the CD and the continued rise of online downloading. The latest research from market analyst NPD group is hardly a surprise: there were 17 million fewer CD buyers in 2008 compared to the year before.
—More paid downloads, less total buying: And while the number of internet users who paid for music increased by 8 million to around 36 million last year—purchased music downloads grew by 29 percent since last year, accounting for 33 percent of all music tracks bought in the U.S.—NPD’s report could not mask the dire circumstances the music industry finds itself in. Without CDs, it seems that many people are giving up on buying music entirely. In ’08, the number of total music buyers fell by 13 million in the U.S. The decline in music buyers was led by a 19 percent drop in CD sales. Only 58 percent of web users said they bought CDs or digital music downloads last year, versus 65 percent in 2007.
—Less buying, more listening: Asked why they hadn’t been buying music, the 4,000 respondents to NPD’s online survey said they were spending less on entertainment in general due to the recession. Meanwhile, web users are becoming more aware of free streaming services. In the case of online radio company Pandora saw its recognition double, NPD says, as 18 percent of web users were able to identify it. The introduction of MySpace Music is also appears to be having an affect on listening habits, the study said. Social net usage climbed from 15 percent in Q407 to 19 percent in Q408. Nearly half of U.S. teens say they listen to music on social nets, which is an increase from 37 percent a year ago; among college-age web users, the percentage rose from 30 percent in ’07 to 41 percent last year.
Thanks to PaidContent.org for this article and info.